Fifty years ago on July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and the Apollo 11 team landed on the moon. I watched all day and night on a small black and white television holding an almost one-month old baby girl in my arms. She has no memory of this night and all the celebration and tears and ticker tapes surrounding the most incredible feat of aerospace development the world had ever seen.
The 1960s were a remarkable time to be alive. Whether you liked them or not, John Kennedy, and Martin Luther King were at work inspiring a generation just off the heels of World War II. The hope of America was rising as at long last the issue of racism was being openly addressed and reckoned with. There were great impulses for righting wrongs and elevating what was best among us.
Women were finding voice; love was in the air and Woodstock was being planned for August of that same summer of ‘69. As a young woman, I remember being more hopeful for a future with peace, love, and justice. I was confident that American ingenuity, hard work, creativity and brilliance would solve problems that would protect the earth, feed the world, and see to it that the goodness and blessing of America would ripple out into all the world, till every child was educated, every person, regardless of color, ethnicity, or gender had voice and safety, education and health care.
What changed from 1969 till now? Hope never fails us, yet hope seems illusive in the rancor and ugliness we see all over the country, and all around the world today, lingering wars, increasing disparity between wealth and poverty, vast division in education. Ignorance grows fear. Fear grows anger. Anger kills hope. Ultimately, all of these differentials of wealth, education, privilege, begin to divide us into our tribes and camps and echo chambers.
Hate is measurably increasing in our country; we even have such conflict in the church we are being driven apart. Somehow, reflecting on the moon landing of 50 years ago has reminded me of the optimism rising in those years after WWII, the war that would end all wars.
I know these years were not the good old days for all people. Too many were still without rights and a share in the American dream; but there were people fighting for them. In those days, the people fighting for full human rights for all people were not called Socialists, they were called justice seekers who worked and lived to right-size the world once and for all. They were people moonstruck with hope that God was in heaven, and humankind was working to conquer the imponderables.
The phase of the moon today is waning Gibbous. She is growing smaller in her cycle of light. But in a little while, she will rise again for us to wish and hope and dream on. We need another small step for humankind, forward into wholeness, healing and blessing for everyone born. Watch the moon tonight. Be moonstruck with renewed hope for who we can be as God’s Beloved.